Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Chief Operating Officer Jim Press says he is fed up with naysayers who doubt the future of gas-electric hybrid vehicles.
“There are all these people who don't want hybrids who are trying to generate all this myth, but I just can't imagine a company 20 or 30 years from now that won't build hybrids,” he tells Ward's.
Here are excerpts from an interview:
Ward's: With the expansion of Toyota's hybrid vehicle lineup, do you worry about a backlash from consumers, who may not be thrilled they won't be getting the fuel economy listed on the sticker or ever make back the money they spent on the hybrid powertrain?
Press: The reason we're getting into hybrid powertrains is multi-faceted, (such as) responsibility to the Earth. Oil really isn't a renewable resource, it really is going to run out, and as it runs out it's going to get a lot more expensive. And as you burn carbon-based oil, it really isn't good for the environment. So anybody that produces a product that's harmful to the Earth isn't going to be able to do that long-term.
If we don't put our eggs in this basket, we're not going to have a basket. Everything is going to be hybrid to some extent. How else will we survive?
Ward's: What did you think of the recent analysis by Edmunds.com that gas would have to be over $10 a gallon for a consumer to ever see any payback for the purchase of a hybrid vehicle?
Press: First of all, (with oil) at $60 a barrel, it's becoming more of a factor. At $70 a barrel it may be more of a factor. These are the same people who said oil will never be higher than $30 a barrel.
Second, when you buy an automatic transmission, how much money do you make on that? What's the payback if you add air conditioning? Is that to save money? So why are hybrids held to this standard Air conditioning costs more. So why don't you ask, “Why do you buy air conditioning; you're not making money on AC?”
Ward's: But on a day like this (90°-plus F), you need air conditioning.
Press: It won't be too long before on a day like this you'll need a hybrid, or else you won't be able to breathe.